Master of Arts in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies

The MA program in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies offers students an opportunity for dedicated, interdisciplinary study of the history, literatures, and cultures of the Middle East from the Middle Ages to the present. It is designed for students who ideally have some college-level preparation in the field and who wish to deepen their expertise in preparation for a PhD program. It is also well-suited for those planning on professional careers in education, law, publishing, business, government, and private agencies whose work touches upon some aspect of Islamic and Near Eastern Studies. Our faculty offer graduate-level instruction in Islamic and Near Eastern history; Islam in world history; Islamic religion and law; anthropology of Islam; premodern Muslim political theory and practice; Near Eastern urban studies; and both classical and modern Arabic literatures. Admission to the MA program normally requires proficiency in Arabic language equivalent to one year of college-level study. After a typical two years of coursework, students will be expected to have completed third-year Arabic successfully before receiving the MA degree.

Degree Requirements

  • A minimum of 36 credits from graduate-level courses, which may include up to 6 units transferred from another institution. (Note: first or second-year language classes do not count toward these 36 credits.)
  • Successful completion of third-year Arabic
  • Ability to use Arabic source material and scholarly articles, to be demonstrated in at least one major seminar paper
  • A second major research paper to be written either in a second seminar or in an independent study to be supervised by one of the faculty associated with the program
  • Students have the option of writing a Master’s thesis in place of the two major research papers (see also Policies and Timelines).
  • At the end of their program of study, degree candidates are required to complete successfully an oral examination, lasting no more than one hour, based on either the two research papers submitted (and revised) for this purpose or the Master’s thesis.
  • Please note also the departmental Policies and Timelines.

Recently Offered Courses in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies

Islamic and Near Eastern History

  • L75 4274, Palestine, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • L75 4675, Beyond the Harem: Women, Gender, and Revolution in the Modern Middle East
  • L75 4872, Colonial Cities and the Making of Modernity
  • L75 501M, Historical Methods-Middle Eastern History: Law and Revolution in Modern Egypt
  • L75 536, The History of the Jews in Islamic Lands
  • L75 5061, City of Peace: Baghdad in Medieval Times (ca. 762-1250)
  • L75 5149, The Late Ottoman Middle East
  • L75 5150, The Middle East in the Twentieth Century
  • L75 5314, Islamic History: 1200-1800
  • L75 5510, Muhammad in History and Literature

Qur’ān, Islamic Law and Theology

  • L75 412, Islamic Theology
  • L75 445, Topics in Islam: Readings in Islamic Political Thought
  • L75 546, Islamic Law
  • L75 562, Approaches to the Qu'ran
  • L75 5622, Topics in Islam: Islam and Human Rights
  • L75 5622, Topics in Islam: Islam in the Modern World


Arabic Literature

  • L75 471, Topics in Modern Arabic Literature in Translation: The Syrian Revolution: Literature, Art, Ideology
  • L 75 4081, Fourth-Level Modern Arabic I and II
  • L75 529, Middle Eastern Islamic Literatures in Translation
  • L75 5325, Introduction to Arabic Literature

Research Seminars

  • L75 49NR, Advanced Seminar: Egypt and the Arab Spring: Middle Eastern Revolution in Historical Perspective
  • L75 405, Diaspora in Jewish and Islamic Experience
  • L75 409, Beyond Geography: The Meaning of Place in the Near East
  • L75 4001, Convivencia or Reconquista? Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Medieval Iberia
  • L75 4020, Jerusalem, the Holy City
  • L75 4970, Empire and Messianism in the Middle East
  • L75 5442, Core Seminar in World/Comparative History: Social and Cultural History of the Modern Middle East

This list is not exhaustive and departmental course offerings may change. Other graduate-level courses in anthropology, history, various languages and literatures, philosophy, and political science may be taken, as long as they are related to a student’s specific field of study and have been approved by his or her academic advisor. However, students should earn at least two thirds of their credits (excluding first- and second year language classes) in courses home-based in the JIMES department.